Who Should Pay For A Home Inspection?
Home inspections are usually the responsibility of the buyer, because a home inspection is part of the “due diligence” of buying a home. The seller does not have the responsibility of paying for a home inspection.
However, you may be able to negotiate for the seller of the home to cover some of the costs of the home inspection as part of the “seller concessions”.
It may seem unfair that you have to pay the cost of a home inspection yourself. But remember this – the inspection, along with the appraisal, is one of the two most common contingencies that allow you to back out of a home purchase without steep penalties.
If the inspector finds that there are serious issues about the home that have not been disclosed by the buyer, you may be able to back out of the sale – without any kind of monetary penalties or legal issues.
It is never worth skipping a home inspection. Even if you are confident about the value of a home and its condition, a professional home inspector can find issues that you did not notice – which may give you the ability to negotiate a lower price, or back out of the deal entirely. This peace of mind is worth the cost of covering a home inspection yourself.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Home Inspection?
It depends on the conditions of the real estate market and the inspector that you choose. Most buyer agreements set out a certain number of days within which a home inspection must be completed (typically 10), to ensure timely inspections.
In general, it’s a good idea to have a home inspector lined up before you finalize the purchase of a home, and need an inspection. This will ensure that you can get the home inspected quickly, and get a good idea of its overall condition and value. It will also keep you from breaking the terms of the contract.
The home inspection itself usually takes about 2-3 hours, during which time the home inspector will check all of the major systems of the house. For larger homes, this process will take longer – for small homes and condos, it may only take 1-2 hours.
You are welcome to accompany the inspector during this time, to ensure that you understand any issues they may report. After the inspection is done, a complete home inspection report will be sent to you within 24 hours.
This report will summarize all of the major findings of the home inspection, ensuring that both parties understand what the home inspector has found.
Can You Get An Appraisal Before A Home Inspection?
Yes – but you probably don’t want to. You are responsible for paying for the cost of an appraisal, which will be required by your lender. This means you’re going to pay $300-$500 or more for an appraisal agent to examine the property.
If you have the property appraised before inspection, you could end up wasting that money because the inspection could reveal major structural issues, which result in you walking away from the sale – without having your appraisal money refunded.
In almost every case, it’s a good idea for inspections to be conducted before appraisals. If your home inspector finds that the house you’re interested in has major flaws, and you can back out due to contingency, you’ll save the fees of a home appraisal!
So, as a rule, always have the inspection conducted before an appraisal. You could save yourself some serious time, money, and headaches.
Is A Home Inspection Part Of Closing Costs?
Technically, yes. The term “closing costs” can be confusing. Closing costs typically include every additional “cost” associated with buying a home. Real estate agents usually estimate closing costs – and their estimates typically include all special inspections like home inspections, termite and radon inspections, etc.
However, even though home inspections are part of the closing costs, they are not due at closing. You pay for home inspections when they are performed – before other closing costs like:
- Mortgage application and origination fees
- Title, survey, and recording fees
- Property insurance and taxes
- Home warranties
- Commissions and other fees
The same is true of appraisals. Though they are considered part of the “closing costs”, you do not pay for them when you close on the home and buy it – you pay for appraisals when they are performed.
If your real estate agent has given you an estimate of closing costs, it generally includes common inspections. However, you should know that you will have to pay some of these fees in advance of the actual home purchase – and depending on the condition of the home, your fees and closing costs could vary from the real estate agent’s estimate. Be prepared for this.
Do Home Inspectors Check Appliances?
The answer is “Yes” – but with a catch. During home inspections, your home inspector will examine “Major Appliances”. They will check all of the major appliances that will be sold with the home, such as:
- Water heaters
- HVAC systems
- Stoves and ovens
- Fireplaces and chimney
As a rule, any appliance that is “built-in”, such as a microwave that cannot be removed, or any appliance that will be sold with the home is tested for function. However, it’s important to understand the limitations of this inspection process.
Most major appliances will simply be tested for basic functionality. For example, the inspector may turn on the oven to make sure that it heats up, or test all of the burners on a range, to ensure that they are all active, and operating properly. Or, they may check to make sure that the dishwasher turns on.
Your inspector is only concerned with general functionality – whether or not an appliance turns on, and has basic functionality. If you want a more in-depth appraisal, you will have to hire an appliance technician, which will carry an additional fee. However, this may be worth the price, particularly if the home has custom, built-in kitchen appliances which may be very costly to repair or replace.
So, the short answer to this question is “Yes.” The long answer is that your inspector will do basic functionality testing of major appliances, but is not responsible for verifying the perfect operation of major appliances – just that they are functional and safe.
Is A Home Inspection Required For A Mortgage?
No. Home inspections are, in many states, optional, and not required for a loan. Home appraisals, however, are mandatory. No bank or lender will give you any kind of loan without conducting an appraisal first.
If you choose not to have a home inspection, your mortgage lender is still happy to perform an appraisal, and allow you to take out your mortgage, as long as the appraisal results are good. But this is an incredibly bad decision.
You see, home appraisals are completely different from home inspections. Home appraisals are only concerned with the general value of the property. A home appraiser has no interest in testing the major systems of the home – such as appliances, and HVAC systems – or confirming its structural integrity. All an appraiser does is objectively look at features of the home which determine its value, such as:
- Neighborhood and location
- Property/lot size
- Size of home (square footage)
- Comparable homes
- Number of bedrooms/bathrooms
- Overall condition of the home
This is done in order to make sure that you are paying a proper amount for the home. If you’re trying to take out a loan for $400,000, for example, and the appraiser believes the home is only worth $250,000, the lender may refuse to give you the loan.
Home inspections, on the other hand, are conducted to convey the condition the property including expensive issues, such as water damage, a leaky roof, damage to the foundation, faulty HVAC systems, plumbing problems, and so on.
Home inspectors inspect every element of the home, to ensure that it is free of issues which may cost you tens of thousands of dollars, should they need to be repaired. This gives you the chance to negotiate a lower price – or back out of the sale altogether, with a contingency clause.
A home inspection is the only way to fully understand what you are buying from a functionality stand point. An appraisal simply does not offer the same benefits. Because of this, you should never skip a home inspection. It’s simply not worth the risk.
What to Do During a Home Inspection?
This is a question we get all the time. The answer is different for everyone and really a lot of it depends on the house. We encourage our clients to attend the inspection and look around yourself for any items or details that you may find interesting or have questions about. Chances are we will have it in our notes and will address them in our summary and report, but an active conversation can be beneficial for all involved. If you’d like to wait till the end to ask questions that’s fine too, either way we will be there for all of them.
The inspection is also a great time to take measurements for appliance whether your bringing your own or buying new. You can also plan where furniture might go and if you have questions about future remodels, just let us know, were happy to give you our input.
On the flip side of this, what do you do if you can’t make it to the inspection? In short, not much, we’ll do our job and send over the report by the following morning. After you and your Realtor review the report, if you have any questions, we are always willing to host a phone conference to go over the findings. The same amount of support will be there whether you attend or not and regardless the report will have all the findings listed with photos and videos.
Every home inspector is different because they generally come from different construction back grounds. We all follow similar standards of practice that limit some aspects of a home inspection such as cosmetic. It is important to remember that the purpose of the home inspection is to find out if any major issues exist.
What Does the Seller Typically Fix? Is Anything Required?
This is a question we generally recommend asking your Realtor. There are many reasons for this but the main one boils down to negations. For example, if you were one of 15 offers but now you want $20,000 in repairs, whether they are legitimate or not, what is to keep the sellers from saying no and planning to accept the next offer. The same situation can happen the other way giving you the potential to save $1,000’s. Regardless in this situation, the home inspector is not the professional in judging the market, the houses value, nor do they have insight on the offers and what price you are paying, this is why we recommend hiring a Realtor.
With that being said, what we typically see being asked for are safety and health related issues. Radon mitigation, mold remediation, repairing of structural components that could result in injury, and moderate to severe electrical issues are some of the most common repair that are asked for because of their health and safety risks. Items such as a leaking roof, major rot in siding and structure, foundation failures, and HVAC systems and water heaters that are no functioning are also common grounds for a repair request because of the financial cumbersome they entail.
So, is anything required to be fixed? This can be a grey area depending on the type of sale but typically, items that an appraiser might call out are required to be fixed to allow for financing or to properly appraise the dwelling. This may include items such as; Smoke and CO detectors that are outdated, missing, or not functioning. Strapping and TPR valve down spouts that are missing on a water heater. A proper heat source that is not functioning and providing heat to bedrooms. And alarming safety issues that could result in injury.
The important thing is to discuss with your Realtor what you would like to be repaired and consider their recommendations. Like your home inspector, the Realtor does not have an emotional attachment to the home, so their reasoning may be more realistic.
What Should a First Time Home Buyer Know?
Buying a home can be a scary process, the term “hurry up and wait” is one that always comes to mind. One big thing to remember is the home inspector is on your side, they don’t fail or pass homes, that can’t prevent you from buying a home, they simply collect information about a home and deliver to you.
There are guidelines for home inspectors of what information to collect and what needs to be inspected, but nothing specifically identifying how they must deliver it. Talk with your Realtor and make sure you hire a home inspector who delivers a quality report with color photos, videos, commentary, and recommendation.
How Do I Choose a Good Home Inspector?
A good home inspector should review a house from top to bottom including all major structural components that he or she can get to. Expect the infrastructure such as the plumbing, electrical, gas lines, and specific appliances to be tested. The doors, windows, outlets, and even locks are typically all standard as well. Chances are when the home inspection is complete, that home inspector will know more about your home than you would in 10 years of living there, so ask questions, read the report, and ask more questions if you have them.
Information is power and ideally with this information you and your Realtor can make the proper decision whether the house is still right for you and if you would like to ask for something to be repaired. One mistake most first-time home buyer’s make is not having a Sewer Scope and Radon test completed. Major sewer issues can add up into the $1,000’s, sometimes even reaching $15,000. A home with high Radon levels can be a serious health issue which would need a mitigation system installed to lower the concentration to safe levels. Typically these services each run $125.00 and yet some decide to skip them and come to regret it later.